Jona Rechnitz says he was given mayor’s cell, told to “always be in touch”

Brooklyn real estate figure testified in trial of union boss Norman Seabrook
October 27, 2017 08:37AM

From left: Jona Rechnitz, Ross Offinger and Mayor Bill de Blasio

Jona Rechnitz — one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest donors — Told A Federal Court he had a direct line to City Hall with a clearly-understood quid pro quo relationship.

Rechnitz, who pleaded guilty to bribing public officials, agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and was the star witness in the trial of former union boss Norman Seabrook.

Rechnitz said before the 2013 election, de Blasio gave him his personal cell phone number and told him to “call if there’s anything I need, always be in touch.” He said he regularly went through de Basio aide Ross Offinger when requesting favors. As of last month, Offinger was making $10,000 a month to raise money for the mayor’s reelection campaign.

“[Offinger] would call when they needed money,” Rechnitz said in Manhattan Federal Court, the New York Daily News reported. “I would call whenever I had an issue.”

In one meeting, Rechnitz said he told Offinger, “We expect a lot of access and influence in the office… When we call we want answers.” Offinger’s responded: “Okay. How much do you think you guys can get together?”

Eric Phillips, de Blasio’s press secretary, disputed that the administration made decisions based on donations. He called Rechnitz’s allegations “re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels.”

Federal prosecutors dropped a probe into de Blasio’s campaign fundraising practices earlier this year, but issued a sharp rebuke.

Rechnitz, the head of real estate firm JSR Capital, personally donated $50,000 to de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York, as well as $102,300 in 2014 for state Senate races. He also raised $41,000 through bundled checks.

Rechnitz — who used “straw donors” to avoid campaign finance limits — said City Hall intervened when Rechnitz was cited for illegal Airbnb activity at a building he owned. “I called Ross, and I told him I wanted him to get me in front of the people who make these decisions so that I don’t have to keep paying these expensive violations,” he said. [NYDN] — E.B. Solomont